Animal-based fats are essential for dogs. They are what your dogs need and crave the most! Fats offer a good source of calories and are needed for energy, to absorb fat soluble vitamins (vitamins E, A and D), to protect nerve fibers and to keep dogs warm during the winter months. Additionally, they offer the flavor to the foods your dog loves! Unlike us, dogs do not respond to fats the way our bodies do. They do not get 'hardenings of the arteries' and they do not have to worry about cholesterol clogging their arteries. Dogs are carnivores and their systems are uniquely designed to digest and utilize fats.
Fats contain the essential fatty acids, omega 6 and omega 3, that dogs need for good health. If you are feeding your dog a healthy raw or home-cooked diet, it will be getting a sufficient amount of omega 6. The needed omega 3's however, are not as readily available in the foods we feed our dogs. Therefore, if a dog is found to be deficient in fats, it is typically a deficiency in omega 3 fatty acids. Therefore, adding omega 3 in the form of EPA fish oil is recommended.
The early signs of a fat deficiency typically show up as skin problems such as seborrhea, dermatitis and poor hair coat. However, omega 3 fatty acids do not just support the skin and coat. They are necessary for proper heart, liver and kidney function, they support the immune system and help keep inflammation at bay.
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While fat is essential for canine health, there are times when you need to reduce the amount of fat in the diet. When this happens, you can reduce the amount of fat you feed without compromising your dog's healthy diet. You can reduce fat content in the following ways:
- Remove the skin from chicken
- Use low-fat or non-fat yogurt or cottage cheese
- Feed lower-fat meat proteins, such as chicken and turkey with skins removed
- Trim excess fat from red meats
- Drain and rinse canned fish such as canned mackerel, salmon or sardines before serving
- Feed eggs whites (remove the yolks)
Some of the canine health conditions that require a reduction in fat are listed below.
Irritable Bowel Disease, Colitis and other gastric problems
When your dog suffers from Irritable Bowel Disease, colitis or other gastric issues, the intestinal tract can become inflamed making fats harder to digest. When this happens, it is suggested you feed a diet lower in fat and feed smaller, more frequent meals. Low-fat diets and smaller meals put less stress on the intestinal lining allowing the digestive tract to heal. In addition to adjusting the diet, there are some beneficial supplements that should be added to provide additional support to the digestive system. These include probiotics, animal based enzymes and l-glutamine. Probiotics help restore the good flora and fauna bacteria that may be lost, the animal based enzymes help predigest fats in the stomach making digestion easier and the l-glutamine helps heal the lining of the digestive tract. Bertes Digestion Blend is a good source for all of these helpful nutrients. For more information and sample diets for feeding low glycemic, low fat diets, see: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/gastric-problems/
While pancreatitis isn't caused by fat, fats can aggravate an already inflamed pancreas. As with IBD and other gastric problems, it is important to feed smaller, more frequent meals and to reduce fat in the diet. Animal based digestive enzymes, such as Food Science All-Zyme, are also important to add to the diet during pancreatitis attacks for additional digestion support. For more information on diet and causes of pancreatitis: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/pancreatitis/
Diabetes in dogs destroys the beta cells in the pancreas making it impossible for the body to produce insulin. While some cases of diabetes may be genetic, it is also believed that long-term feeding of diets high in carbohydrates (sugar) and poor protein sources that have been over processed can also lead to diabetes. Since the pancreas is directly involved, the fat in the diet needs to be reduced. Diet recommendations include low carbohydrate, medium protein and reduced fat. If your dog has diabetes, a low glycemic (low-sugar) diet along with reduced fat is helpful. Sample recipes can be found here: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/.
This disease is caused by adrenal malfunction that causes the adrenals to produce too much cortisol. Dogs with Cushing's disease are more prone to develop pancreatitis. Symptoms of Cushing's disease include weight gain, a 'pot belly' appearance, increased thirst and urination, hair loss, darkening skin pigmentation and panting. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, it is important to have your veterinarian perform blood work, urinalysis and an ACTH stim test to get a confirmed diagnosis. A low glycemic, low fat diet is also beneficial for this condition. http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/.
Hypothyroidism results in the thyroid gland not functioning properly which causes the thyroid to not produce enough hormones. The cause of this is not well understood, however it is suspected it may be part of an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the thyroid gland. Dogs prone to pancreatitis can occasionally have hypothyroidism. Symptoms can include hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, high cholesterol readings on blood work, darkening of the skin and occasionally anemia. If your dog displays some of these symptoms and you suspect your dog may have a thyroid problem, have your veterinarian run the 6-panel thyroid test. The results of this bloodwork will confirm if your dog has a thyroid issue. Medication can help bring your dog back to good health. Since weight can be an issue with hypothyroidism and hormone fluctuation can affect the pancreas, a low glycemic, low fat diet is also beneficial for supporting both of these conditions. http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/.
Epilepsy is a frustrating and puzzling disorder because of the difficulty in determining the cause. It may be the result of poisons or chemicals or an injury to the head. Newer research suggests some foods such as glutens, which are found in many grains, and sugar, found in grains and starches, may trigger seizure activity. Eliminating grains and starches from the diet and feeding low-glycemic vegetables instead, as well as feeding a good variety of bioavailable animal protein sources that contain taurine and l-carnitine may help inhibit seizures. Feeding the low glycemic, low-fat diet is beneficial for dogs prone to seizures. http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/. In addition to diet, the supplement DMG liquid (Dimethylglycine) is made from glycine, an amino acid found in protein, may also help control the incidences of seizures.
Obesity is a common problem in dogs, especially as they begin to age. When you know your dog needs to lose weight, you may look to the supermarket shelves or your veterinarian's office for the best low-fat dog food available. There is no doubt you will find a plethora of commercially processed dog foods marketed to meet your dog's weight-loss needs. However, when you read the product labels, you will find that fat and protein are reduced and carbohydrates and fiber are increased. While these diets may offer fewer calories, they also offer fewer nutrients, less appetizing foods, and ingredients that are difficult for your dog to digest. While obesity is most common in senior dogs, their senior years are not the time to reduce the quality nutrients needed to stay healthy. Senior dogs actually require more quality protein than adult dogs. They are essential for keeping the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs healthy and keeping the immune system strong. Additionally, fat is what satiates a dog's appetite and keeps it satisfied longer. Feeding commercially processed senior diets or weight loss diets keep your dog hungry and begging for more food. Rather than reduce nutrients and lower fat, feed less food – but make sure the ingredients of the diet include quality proteins and fats to ensure your dog is getting the quality nutrients it needs for good health and to satisfy its appetite. A good starting point is to feed your dog between 2% to 3% of your dog's ideal or 'target' weight. Watch your dog's weight closely and adjust the food quantity as needed to reach your dog's weight goal. For more help on weight reduction, read here: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/pudgy-pups/
Fall is here and the temperatures are quickly dropping!
Keep your dogs warm and well hydrated by feeding them quality fats and lots of fresh water.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM ALL OF US AT B-NATURALS.